The Roosevelt Tamale salon in San Francisco is closing permanently

Another one biting the dust. Roosevelt Tamale Parlor, a century-old Mexican restaurant (or 103, according to some), has permanently closed. Erratic business due to the pandemic and the lack of a lease renewal guarantee from the landlord are the two main culprits, according to local missionwho first reported the closure.

Since 2012, Aaron Presbrey and Barry Moore have owned and operated the restaurant seated at 2817 24th St. in San Francisco’s Mission District. With its storied history, it’s a place that’s been mostly kept alive by neighborhood regulars and longtime patrons, especially in the midst of the pandemic, according to Presbrey.

“By the end of it, we knew about 70% of our customers by sight if not by name,” Presbrey told SFGATE via email.

When the city was closed, and despite San Francisco’s slower return to indoor dining compared to other major cities, many of Roosevelt’s devoted patrons still wanted to eat the tamales and other Mexican dishes. So they ordered takeout. But that was not enough to sustain the activity.

“This change [in business model] definitely impacted our bottom line due to the high fees charged by delivery services,” Presbrey said. “We’ve also noticed that many of our repeat customers have left San Francisco during the pandemic for a variety of reasons.”

The closure of Roosevelt Tamale Parlor comes after news of another 100-plus-year-old Mission business in trouble. The St. Francis Fountain, which SFGATE featured in July, went on sale in late August as owners Levon Kazarian and Peter Hood wanted to move on to other projects in their lives.

This begs the question: why do two century-old pillars of the Mission continue to struggle?

The easy answer is the pandemic, according to Presbrey. He also added that it is the nature of a city – populations evolve and so do neighborhoods.

“I think the closure of these older businesses just means that the demographics of the city are changing and new residents of the city may not be as attracted to the nostalgic nature of older establishments,” he said. he declares. “…Cities grow and evolve and unfortunately this may mean that some of their institutions lose their value to the current population.”

Still, Roosevelt Tamale Parlor was able to survive the worst of the pandemic, largely because of its loyal clientele. Presbrey said he was grateful.

“My greatest memories of the Roosevelt all revolve around the people who made up our community,” he said. “We hosted 80th birthdays and 50th wedding anniversaries for customers who had eaten there since their teenage years. We hosted wedding rehearsal dinners for the couples whose children we then fed. We were the last meal before work for many new mothers.

San Francisco just lost another space that was as much a community center as a restaurant.

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